Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gethsemane: The Usual Suspects

The reactions to Jesus' behavior in Gethsemane include classical criticism, modern criticism, and Christian doubt and indifference. So we are looking for an explanation.
What accounts for the way Jesus behaved? Critics and defenders of Jesus alike tend to include the same causes in their lists. They both round up what have become the usual suspects:
  • fear of bodily pain
  • fear of death
  • fear of being despised and rejected
  • fear of betrayal and abandonment
  • grappling with temptation
  • grappling with Satan
  • fear for what would become of his disciples
  • fear of what was impending over his nation
  • division of the person of Jesus into two persons, one divine and the other human, and then either excusing or blaming the human Jesus
  • a strategic ploy of Jesus feigning symptoms to fool Satan
  • a malady, disease, or illness that infected him
  • confusion over the will of God

Some of this is too casual or too cute. Some of it is nauseating metaphysical speculation. The worst of it dishonest. Those who say Jesus behaved in a cowardly fashion ought to know, if it takes a coward to know one.

My purpose here is not to answer every casual, cute, or foolish explanation (neither the accusing or excusing ones). My purpose is to say what was really going on for the edification of the faithful or for the conversion of those who have not yet turned with repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ.

But I will pause long enough to answer the classic and most prevalent of the criticisms, the one which also is the most dishonest. That answer will come in the next posting, Gethsemane: Who's Afraid of Death?


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